Seven-year-old 'celebrity' wolf killed by trophy hunter less than five miles from national park entrance

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks confirmed the wolf, officially named Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack Member 926F, was killed legally

                            Seven-year-old 'celebrity' wolf killed by trophy hunter less than five miles from national park entrance

A seven-year-old wild wolf well-known amongst animal lovers and nicknamed 'Spitfire' was killed by a trophy hunter after she wandered outside the Yellowstone National Park. Officially called Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack Member 926F by the scientists who had been religiously tracking her, she was hunted down and shot in Montana.

According to the Daily Mail, Spitfire — also called the 'Queen of Lamar Valley' — came to suffer the same unfortunate fate as her equally famous mother, the alpha female wolf 832F who died in 2012, and her uncle 754M. Better known as 06, reportedly a reference to the year she was born, Spitfire's mother had even been the inspiration for the book 'American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West.'

The 06 Legacy, a wolf-enthusiasts page dedicated to following the wolves in and around Yellowstone and their protection, confirmed the news of Spitfire's killing, posting, "It’s so difficult to write this. We are passing along the devastating news that our beloved 926F of the Lamar Canyon Pack was killed in the Montana trophy hunt."

"She was the daughter of our namesake 06 and she was known as the Queen of the Lamar Valley. She was seven years old and led her pack through a number of very difficult circumstances. 926F showed incredible strength, courage, and resilience in everything she did," it continued. "She had a special bond with her daughter Little T and they stayed together all these years."

"We had so much to celebrate when we saw five strong and healthy pups this fall. And now it took just one bullet and 926F is gone. Just like her mother 06 and her uncle 754M before her. With current wolf management practices, the tragedy just doesn’t end. The 06 Legacy is committed to protecting wolves and we are going to fight even harder for 06, 926F, 754M and all the other wolves whose lives are taken for granted and are killed for nothing more than sport. We leave you tonight with hearts full of sadness. Rest in peace our beautiful Queen."

Deby Dixon, a photographer who had extensively followed Spitfire's journey, also paid tribute to the fallen wolf. "Thank you for all of the moments. You were bigger than life and so well loved," she wrote. "I am so sorry to everyone who loved this dynamic survivor. She gave it her all."

She also begged her followers to stop giving out the locations of the wolves to hunters. "Please, everyone, quit giving the locations of these animals," she posted. "They are being reported daily close to park borders. No ugliness, name calling or threats. I don’t agree with wolf hunting but it is legal."

As Dixon mentioned, the hunt that killed Spitfire was completely legal, with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks confirming to the New York Times that the wolf was killed legally less than five miles from the national park's northeast entrance.

The Mail reports that the killing has once again sparked calls for a buffer zone around the Yellowstone borders so the wolves that unknowingly cross it cannot be hunted down. However, lawmakers in Montana have passed legislation forbidding the creation of such a buffer.